Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wines from organically grown fruit, great for the palate and the land

Wines produced from organically grown fruit are not only great tasting wines, but good for the environment and the winegrower as well. 

At the recent Organic Grapegrowing Conference, grower Ted Hall said that the fundamental objective of organic farming is to create a healthy plant.  “We’re trying to create a plant that is balanced and appropriate for its site, slope and conditions.  A healthy plant can produce fantastic flavors at full physiological ripeness without practices like water stress and long hang-time that can weaken a plant.” 

Winegrower Lou Preston is a great advocate of organic farming.  He feels that the living soil is the epicenter of sustainable farming.  Lou says, "Our program starts with the annual application of hundreds of tons of compost which we think of as yoga for the vines.  We buy compost and we make compost from our farm and winery waste combined with manure from a local organic dairy.  We grow winter leguminous cover crops that contribute nitrogen naturally as well as carbonaceous matter to feed the soil microorganisms.  All that growth is then tilled into the soil with heavy cultivation equipment that use to be the norm in vineyards, but hasn't been used for years because of the trend to chemical culture."

Organic farming builds a healthy environment for the vines.  Building a strong community of worms, insects, fungi and bacteria will produce the natural nutrients necessary for the vines.  Also, these communities create an environment inhospitable to pathogens, increasing plant resistance to disease.

How can you tell if the wine is made with organic grapes?  Check the label to see it if includes the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) seal (if grown in California), or the USDA Organic seal if grown elsewhere in the USA. Other countries have similar seals.  The term organic is often confusing in the wine industry.  There are many wines that are produced with certified organic grapes, but the wine itself is not certified organic.  This is because it is difficult to produce wine without the use of sulfites.  While there are just a few organic wineries, there are many more wines that are produced with organic grapes.

Try some of these fine wines and learn that going organic is a great choice.  Bybee Vineyards and Habitat in Russian River Valley produces the 2007 “B” Pinot Noir.  This wine is a ruby colored Burgundian style Pinot Noir with aromas and flavors of plum, dark berries including black- berry and black cherry, violets and characteris-tics of earth and minerals.  It has a nice balance of acidity and tannins with a long pleasant finish.

Preston of Dry Creek has the 2007 “Syrah-Sirah”, a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah.  This wine is brimming with the aromas and flavors of plum and black cherry with a complex structure of pepper, minerality, various spices and earthiness. 

The Syrah and Petite Sirah grapes were grown side-by-side in 100% certified estate vineyards.  Lou Preston has been a leading advocate of organic farming for years.  Not only does he grown organic grapes but also organic vegetables, olives and much more.  His tractors have been converted to run on vegetable oil to reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels. 

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